I can’t remember a time that I had more fun watching a series than this year’s ALCS between the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays. Each and every game has been intense and full of drama and excitement. Last night’s game five was no different, as the game came down to the wire, and it was a lot of fun to watch. The game etched its place into baseball history, as it was the first-ever postseason game to see the game’s first pitch, as well as the last pitch, leave the ballpark.
That first pitch came on a George Springer leadoff home run to start the game, which gave Houston the lead. That last pitch came on a Carlos Correa walk-off home run to give the Astros the win in the bottom of the ninth. This was a back and forth game the entire way out, with Houston taking the lead on multiple occasions, only to see the Rays tighten it back up each and every time.
Back-to-back years with #ALCS walk-off homers.
— MLB (@MLB) October 16, 2020
But the Astros got to bat last, and the walk-off blast from Correa gave them the win and extended Houston’s season. After falling behind in this series three games to none, the Astros have now won back to back games and will look to win again today in game six, hoping to force a winner take all game seven on Saturday. For today’s free daily betting pick, we will breakdown all of the action between the Astros and the Rays in game six of the American League Championship Series!
Houston Astros (2-3) at Tampa Bay Rays (3-2)
The Houston Astros have managed to stave off elimination on back-to-back nights and, with a win today in game six, could even the series up and force a decisive game seven tomorrow. Houston has won both of those games by just one run, and the never say die Astros have to have Rays fans nervous, as they are starting to build up a lot of momentum. For Tampa Bay, the Rays are hoping to finish off Houston today and take advantage of a day or two of extra rest before what is sure to be an evenly matched World Series.
Two elimination games tonight?!
— MLB (@MLB) October 16, 2020
Starting today for the Astros is Framber Valdez (2-0 1.50 ERA), and for the Rays, it is Blake Snell (1-1 3.38 ERA). The Rays are -130 home field favorites. The game total over/under is set seven and a half runs. First pitch is scheduled for 3:07 PM PST from PETCO Park in San Diego.
Can the Houston Astros survive another night and force game seven? I will be the first to admit that I didn’t think they were going to win game four, as I saw this as a mentally weak team that was going to give up. But the Astros have proven me wrong, by not only winning game four, but by following it up with a dramatic win in game five, and all of the sudden, we have a series on our hands. One guy that has been trying to single-handedly will his team to the World Series, has been George Springer.
Springer has homered in back to back games and has a total of four hits, and three RBI in the two Houston wins. These types of playoff performances are nothing new for Springer, as he was the World Series MVP for Houston back in 2017, when he smashed five home runs and led the Astros to the world title. If Houston wants to keep winning and extending their season, they will need to keep seeing these Springer Dingers.
Framber Valdez (2-0 1.50 ERA)
Framber Valdez is quickly establishing himself as the current and future ace of this Astros starting rotation. Gone are guys like Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander, and alleged incumbent ace, Zack Greinke, has been dreadfully bad in the postseason. Valdez has taken the reigns as the go-to guy for Houston and has pitched really well in the playoffs.
In three postseason starts, Valdez has worked a total of eighteen innings and has allowed just four earned runs. That is good for a 2.00 ERA. He has been stingy in terms of giving up base hits as he has allowed just eleven hits in those eighteen innings and has racked up seventeen Ks. The one area that he has struggled in, though, is walks. He has walked seven guys already in those three starts, and in his last start, against the Rays in game one of this series, his four walks hurt him, and the Astros lost the game.
Tampa Bay Rays
While Tampa Bay Rays fans have to feel like they got punched in the gut in the last two games, history and logic tell us that they are still heavily favored to win this series and advance to just their second-ever World Series in franchise history. But we all know that history and logic have no place in 2020, so I don’t blame Rays fans for freaking out right now.
A major key for the Rays in this series is finding a way to get the lead early in the game. No team in baseball is better than Tampa Bay in terms of holding on to leads. The Rays record when leading late in the games are eye-poppingly good.
When leading after six innings, the Rays are 33-1. When leading after seven innings, that improves to 30-0. When Tampa Bay has hit the ninth inning with a lead intact? They are a perfect 37-0. The Rays know that if they get an early lead, they are in great shape, and that will be their main focus against Framber Valdez tonight in game six.
Blake Snell (1-1 3.38 ERA)
While Houston is trying to figure out which pitcher is the ace of their rotation, the Rays don’t have those same problems, as Blake Snell is clearly their number one guy. Snell has been the Rays game one pitcher in each of their three playoff series this year, and the Rays count on him to get them a win each and every time he pitches. Snell has done a great job of holding up his end of the bargain as the Rays have won nine out of his fourteen starts this season.
In his game one start against Houston, Snell led his team to victory when he worked five innings and allowed just one earned run. That run came on a Jose Altuve solo shot home run in the first inning, and Snell did a great job of settling down after giving up the bomb to Altuve and picked up the winning decision for his efforts. Last year in the playoffs, the Rays used Snell out of the bullpen against the Astros, and in three appearances, he posted an ERA of 1.69.
Who Do I Like?
The Houston Astros have seen a lot of Blake Snell in the postseason in the last two years. In four tries against Snell, the Astros just haven’t been able to get much going against the former Cy Young Award winner. In 10.2 innings pitched against the Astros in the last two postseasons, Snell has allowed just two earned runs. That is good for a 1.69 ERA. With so much on the line, it is hard to expect Snell to not continue this recent run of success against Houston.
In six postseason appearances, Snell’s ERA is just 2.57. I expect him to have a strong outing tonight and lead his team to the World Series. The Rays haven’t been using Snell to get overly deep into games, but he is certainly capable of giving the Rays 110+ pitches in this game if that is what they need. I see Snell getting the Rays to the sixth inning, with a lead, and turning things over to the bullpen to finish the game out.
Framber Valdez is a great young pitcher. But he isn’t Blake Snell. These two matched up in game one, and Snell outdueled him in that game, and I see that happening again in this one. It would be shocking if either guy got lit up, and I see this as a very tightly contested and low scoring game, just like the last couple of games have been in this series. The Astros showed that they do have a little heart, even if it is made of stone, and saved some face by winning a couple of games in this series.
That run ends tonight in game six, as the Rays are going to win and advance. I’ll call it a 3-2 win for Tampa Bay, with the Rays getting a run or two off of Valdez and the Astros costing themselves at least one run on some sort of mental error that have been plaguing them this entire series. Give me the Tampa Bay Rays as small betting favorites, laying -130 tonight, in game six of the American League Championship Series!